Things didn’t exactly go according to plan for the UFC in Australia. But hey, what did you expect from the Southern Hemisphere? It’s a crazy, mixed-up world where winter is summer and Natalie Imbruglia is known as an actress rather than as the adorable girl from that one music video.
Now that it’s all over, we pause a moment to sort through the biggest winners, losers, and everything in between.
Biggest Winner: Joseph Benavidez
The man regarded by many as the uncrowned king of the newly-created 125-pound division showed why he was a 10-1 favorite over Yasuhiro Urushitani with a blistering second-round TKO. Not only did he punch his ticket (pun totally intended) to the finals, he also showed the doubters that flyweight will not be a division devoid of finishing power. It’s just a shame he’ll have to wait for things to get sorted out on the other side of this mini-bracket before he can fight for the title. Looks like Joe-B's Australian vacay just got extended. Fortunately, he still has some Twitter bonus money to spend.
Biggest Loser: Craig Waller, Department of Sport and Recreation, New South Wales, Australia
Waller, by his own admission, "misread one of the scorecards" after the Ian McCall-Demetrious Johnson bout. That led to the bout being declared a decision victory for Johnson (which it wasn’t), instead of a majority draw (which it was). Normally, it’d be no big deal, except that this was a flyweight tourney bout, so we needed a winner. That’s why the UFC got all four fighters in the tourney to sign on for a fourth sudden death round in the event of just this kind of thing. The solution was in the place, all the possible outcomes had been taken into account, but one man’s inability to look at some numbers and do some very basic math rendered it all meaningless. Seriously, how do you screw that up? It’s such an easy job to take the scorecards from the judges, tally them up, and tell (as Chael Sonnen might say) the guy in the sharkskin suit what to say. Really, there’s only one way to blow that assignment and Waller found it. I suppose the good news is that McCall and Johnson will get another chance to settle the matter. Considering how exciting the first three rounds were, we can’t complain too much about the chance to see a few more, even under these regrettable circumstances. Just please, next time let’s get a commissioner in there who can add.
Luckiest S.O.B in Australia: Martin Kampmann
Okay, so maybe it’s unfair to chalk his win up entirely to fortune. Alves made a late mistake, gave him the opening, and Kampmann seized on it. Still, if Alves doesn’t go for that completely unnecessary takedown, Kampmann almost certainly loses that fight. He was down on the cards and getting battered in the final moments of the fight, and nothing about the way he backpedaled away from Alves’ attacks suggested that he was on the verge of a comeback. Granted, Alves didn’t choke himself (not literally, anyway) so ultimately, the credit for the win still has to go to Kampmann. But if he doesn’t feel like he got away with one there, he’s not being honest with himself.
Biggest Tactical Blunder: Thiago Alves
About four years ago I dropped an easy touchdown pass in a rec league flag football game. I still think about it sometimes. It wasn’t even a playoff game, and my team went on to win that game anyway. And yet, sometimes when I’m lying in bed at night I remember that drop and I literally, physically cringe. It's stupid, but it's true. I confess this to you now because I'm wondering, if that’s how it feels when you mess up in a meaningless rec league flag football game, how many sleepless nights does Alves have in front of him after his screw-up against Kampmann? He had that fight all but won. He might have been able to finish Kampmann with strikes at the end, but if not he had the decision all sewn up. All he had to do was not lose it in the final minute. All he had to do was not do exactly what he did. The worst part is, he looked really good for most of the fight. Right up until the end. You know, the part that matters most. The part he'll have the rest of his life to think about.
Recipients of the Don Frye ‘We Can Do It Again, Brother’ Award: Ian McCall and Demetrious Johnson
Both men had their emotions toyed with by the stunning incompetence of the local commission, and that is a shame. It’s also unfortunate that we’ll have to wait even longer to see who will meet Benavidez for the UFC flyweight strap. But honestly, if there was one fight on this card that you had to sit through again, wouldn’t you like it to be this one? Ideally, they would have settled it in the fourth round that was created for exactly this reason. But since it’s too late for that now, this is the next best option. Let’s all try and make the best of it.
Most Surprising: Shawn Jordan’s backflip
In case you missed it, the heavyweight slugger followed up an impressive TKO of Oli Thompson on the prelims with some post-fight acrobatics that...well...let’s just say if you met Jordan in a bar and he bet you his tab that he could do a backflip right then and there, you’d take one look at his physique and figure you were safe. It’s not that the man has a bad body, but he does have a certain type of heavyweight build, and men of that stature aren’t known for their backflipping abilities. And yet, if you were fool enough to take that bet you’d be buying him whiskey and gator juice cocktails (he’s from Louisiana, so I just assume that’s what he drinks) all night long. It might even be worth it, too. After all, how can you put a price on a good backflip? Dude even stuck the landing.